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Their own and others: the Russian about life in New York

Former Krasnodar Andrei Lunin, who has been living in New York for about 15 years, told why he prefers this city to everything else, about the dissimilarity of New Yorkers to other Americans, about Hillary and Trump, Starbucks and astronomical prices for housing and medicine.

New York. Photo: Depositphotos


Arriving in America, the first 3 of the year I lived in Miami and studied there. I was 19 years old. Then he moved to New York and 11 has lived in Manhattan for years. I always liked New York, several of my friends lived there, it’s easier to get to Europe and Russia from New York, and indeed it’s the center of the world. For a while, I often flew to Russia, Krasnodar, - twice a year.

Then, in 2003, the program Work & Travel was popular, even fashionable. Everybody went somewhere for the summer. I flew in the summer - I liked it - stayed. I spent that summer in New York, and then I went to study in Miami and then returned to New York from there.

I can not say that I left Russia in the United States because something did not suit me in Russian life. What might not suit in 19 years?

The only goal is to graduate. I had no revolutionary emigration ideas. And went to America? - Go.

I thought I knew a language. At school I had a five in English, I studied with a tutor. When I arrived, I understood something, read normally, watched the news, but could not communicate. In Miami, I began to study the language intensively in college, and 3 worked English only an hour a day for 5. Considering that I did not speak Russian with anyone, in six months I learned English as I did not learn it in school in 10 years. It’s almost impossible to use the school Soviet base, you’re not going to start talking to her. Communication helps.

USA and New York

In terms of order and organization of life, I like everything here. If you live and work without breaking the law, you will have everything. Nothing "extra" - but the money to fly to Brazil for the New Year - yes, definitely. Having an average income here, you can afford to live much better than with an average income, say, in Krasnodar.

Although, on the other hand, as anyone: I know the guys who lived here, returned to Russia and succeeded there. But, again, it seems to me, there you can start a business only with someone’s submission - parents, friends. I doubt that it will be possible, having arrived in Krasnodar, to immediately get a job, find accommodation, get dressed-shoes and fly somewhere - that all this will be money at once.

New York is still not a real America, in Manhattan you can hardly find an ordinary and typical American, everyone here has come. Almost everyone comes from different countries and cities, almost everyone has an accent. But some general rules can be deduced: for example, whatever happens, you need to answer that everything is fine, smile, you cannot show that you have problems, experiences: this is not interesting to anyone. No one is crying to anyone - only doctors. We in Russia are crying to our girlfriends, to our neighbors - here are therapists. I have so far all good, I do not go to a psychologist. The old-fashioned way - to friends with a bottle. If you go, you sit down, I don’t know a single person who would go to the therapist and then stop walking. No, it works differently: go - hooked. Everyone goes and praises: "my therapist is so good," "no, my so good." I don’t want to, until everything is so bad in my life.

New York. Photo: Depositphotos

I did not observe the complex of a man who took root in Manhattan and does not want to leave it. On the contrary, I cannot sit still, I always go somewhere. You always want to escape somewhere, even for one day. Yesterday I went to New Jersey, to the ocean - it would seem two hours from Manhattan, but already a completely different world. The world of "Trumpapporters" (who voted for Trump). America is completely different.

Of course, I voted for Hillary Clinton. I did not go to anti-ramp rallies, no: I am far from politics. And I'm not a big fan of Hillary, but between her and Trump you choose the lesser evil. She, at least, has education and experience in this area, she would have smarter and better defended the interests of the country, and not engaged in adjusting everything for her business.

In the US, an incredibly politicized society. During the elections, it was impossible to hear about anything else, continuous debates - in bars, at home. Everyone talks about it, argues, discusses it. If you are not in politics, there is simply nothing to do.

I don’t have anything to say about Facebook - I probably haven’t been there for half a year, because the talk is only about politics. And now the main topics for discussion are constantly connected with Trump: his tweets, jokes, articles about Melania, etc.

Real America

I used to work as a seller and buyer in clothing stores (Gucci, Louis Vuittonlast three years - Hermes), and now co-owner of a small company engaged in design consulting. My day begins at 8-8.30. I wake up, have breakfast slowly and start the working day from home: I look through the mail, I reply to the letters. In 10 — 11 I come to the office, I work there for several hours, I have meetings, etc. The work ends at different times: from 4 to 7 in the evening. Next - the gym, and in the evening - when like: then go home, then have dinner somewhere or drink. With many friends we live in the same area and often get together.

New York, I am very satisfied in terms of service. Everything can be ordered with home delivery. Compared to Europe, where I tried to live for a while, in New York everything is fine with the service.

I lived in Switzerland - after six in the evening everything is closed, you will not even find an open pharmacy. With alcohol and products the same.

In this America, I almost did not go. I have been to California many times; I really like it in Los Angeles. He lived in Miami, traveled around Florida, to Washington and New York.

Real American life is depressive. Ordinary Americans are not interesting to anyone, most often fat people, living according to a schedule of work - home - work - home. Every day fast food, Walmart and chrystal meth, if you remember “Breaking Bad” (methamphetamine, which is described in detail in the series “Breaking Bad.” - Approx. SB). Central America sits on it. New York and Los Angeles are not America. Just like the audience of Hillary and Trump are two different categories of citizens. Educated, those who understand what's what, voted for Hillary, and everyone else ...

As my friend said after the election, now we see how many houses in America still use microwaves. In New York, people are educated; in New York, people make money; in New York, they work like nowhere else in the world.

Yes, nothing surprises me here. Yesterday I went to the gym in the morning, I go back, bought coffee, and right under my house there are a bunch of police officers - someone was arrested. I just went further, stepped over, roughly speaking, over the arrested person - and home. Nothing is surprising here. photo

Income and salary

In New York, you can earn, though not always a lot, but at least for a decent lifestyle. I have my own office, and the income depends on the commission, so it is unstable: a couple of months can be very little, and then a lot at once. Annual income - 100 — 120 thousand dollars.

Up to 50 thousand. $


50 — 150 Thousands of $


From 200 thousand. $


In Manhattan, a salary of 100 thousand per year is considered normal, not bad. I know a lot of people who earn both 50 and 60 thousands. Depends on the industry in which you work. I used to work as a salesman in a store - a good salesperson can earn 150 thousands per year. Smile and sell these bags at an insane price - and everything will be fine.

And I have a friend, also Russian, a very clever guy, he graduated from a university in America, now he works at school Parsons, one of the best in design, in the admissions department, and earns 55 a year (he is 35). Good education, excellent English, but not much money. And it was not easy for him to find this job. And my other best friend, from Bulgaria, is also very smart and with an excellent education, works in the "Bank of America" ​​and earns about 500 thousand a year. But he works from eight to eight every day, and even, sometimes, on Sundays, and even when we other friends get together and go to the park or to brunch. But he bought an apartment for 1,5 million in Manhattan 7 years ago. Whoever is lucky - but everyone has a chance, intelligence and arrogance are decisive.

Taxes depend on salary, age, marital status, the state in which you live. We pay at least 30% of salary. I have a little more - 33 — 34%: young, lonely, tax more.


My apartment consists of a bedroom, a living room and a kitchen. I live in the heart of Manhattan, at the intersection of 55 Street and 8 Avenue, three blocks from Central Park. This area is called Columbus Circle. Rent costs 2,120 thousand dollars per month. This is considered super cheap: an old house, a 5 storey, no elevator, high ceilings and a fairly large area for Manhattan. The apartment is in the program rent stabilized: the owner has no right to raise the lease above the bar set by the city. That is, the town meeting is being held, at which it is decided that it is possible to raise the rent by 2%, and my landlord raises the price for this amount - it turns out more expensive by 20 dollars. In general, such an apartment costs an average of 2,8 — 3 thousands of dollars a month. People often pay 7 thousands per month for a one-room apartment because of the chic look. Space prices. The cheapest room in Manhattan costs 1,5 thousands per month. Over the 1,3 thousands will be the fifth floor without elevator with a terrible bathroom.

We have a client who bought an apartment for 13 millions in Tribec. In fact, I do not collect money for my apartment, although, of course, in the long-term plans there is a purchase of my property. In addition, it is very expensive, in addition to the mortgage, you still have to pay for the maintenance of the apartment, not only the communal apartment. It sometimes costs more than rent. My friend bought an apartment for 1,5 million - this is the average price of a one-room apartment in Manhattan, - he has this maintenance fee at 3,8 thousand per month. Plus a mortgage. If something breaks, such as an elevator, the tenants repair themselves, throwing themselves off for repairs. While they send me a person who repairs something, it's free.

Not the fact that you will save on buying an apartment, in general. Maybe in another place, but not in Manhattan.


Nobody drives a car: it’s impossible to find a parking lot. I really do not know a single manhattan resident with a private car, which he would drive around Manhattan. True, I have a friend who has relatives and business in Brooklyn, and he goes there by car.

We have a subway that works quite well. It is dirty and with rats, but it works fine and is inexpensive. Unlimited travel on 30 days by subway and bus costs 130 dollars. One ticket without a pass - 2,7 dollar.


I'm a big Starbucks fan. No matter how bad things would be said about him, no matter how they scolded me, I think that Starbucks is a very serious company, they always have everything in place, everything is thought out - every step, every little thing, and everything is meant for the visitor was happy. You will come somewhere else: Oh, and we don’t have this and that, and we don’t do that - in the end you owe them one more time. Another thing Starbucks: you always know that you order something tasty and everything is in stock.

Coffee costs from 2 dollars. In principle, prices are the same as in Russia. In Krasnodar, I went to Starbucks and was surprised: New York and Krasnodar did not compare incomes, but the prices for coffee were about the same. Apparently, in Krasnodar there are people with New York incomes.

New York. Photo: Depositphotos

Craft coffee shops in New York are still in great fashion, and they are at every turn, so I even think how much you need to sell an espresso for 2 dollars a day to pay for a crazy rent - 4 thousands of dollars a month, salary staff, etc. Open and close very often. But I don’t even go there - I love everything to be thoughtful from and to, and I’ll go, I will say three magic words, and no one will ask me anything and do exactly what I want.

In New York, at every corner there is a restaurant or cafe, they are very, very much. My favorite recently place - Dig inn. This is a new concept: everything is organic, grown in the New York area, vegetables and all products are from local farms. You can eat for 10 — 12 dollars by choosing everything you need: meat or fish, vegetables, and salad — all very tasty. I go there all the time. I sometimes eat at home too - but I won't say that I cook: I call it “I defrost”. The products are not cheap, and there is no point in cooking much (if there is no passion for cooking), you will save two dollars and kill time.

But I’m not such a gourmet, I don’t go to expensive restaurants, although there are plenty of them, especially here, in Columbus Circle: both Per Se and Jean Georges - literally two blocks from me. In New York, money is always there, was and will be, so go to expensive restaurants and will go. But now, many are abandoning luxury in favor of the average, so that the food is simple, organic and tasty.

Medicine and pharmacies

Medical services are absurdly expensive. I try to be treated in Russia, especially my teeth. Here, one implant costs 5 thousand dollars. Insurance covered 3 thousands, 2 I paid extra. I went to a good Manhattan clinic, but did it all the same wrong, then reworked it. It is cheaper and better to fly to Krasnodar to my doctor and do everything there.

In pharmacies, everything is prescribed - without it, you can’t buy antibiotics or painkillers. When I worked in a big company, insurance cost 250 dollars a month, the rest was paid by the company. It was a good and inexpensive insurance. Now, when we have a common cause with my business partner, we pay 650 per person. Separately, you pay for a visit to the doctor and medicines that are very expensive. They prescribed some medicine for 300 dollars, which in Brazil can be bought for 20.

The quality of ordinary treatment is about the same as in Russia. Of course, if you do not compare any Zipovsky hospital with NYU Hospital. But once a car hit me - lightly, I broke my elbow and a crack in my leg. I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, it was about the same thing: the emergency room was maybe a little cleaner and fresher, the same homeless people were lying next to me, 2 — 3 was waiting for an hour for the doctor to be released.

I am sure that serious medicine here is at the level - operations, surgery. But the usual - to go to the doctor when the elbow hurts, is better in Russia, where you will be cured and prescribed inexpensive medications, even if you pay out of pocket, and not under insurance.

As a result, you will pay 1,5 thousands of rubles for a visit to the doctor and a snapshot, and here one shot costs 300 dollars if there is no insurance.

Fun and nostalgia

The price system in cinemas is inflexible - I think that in Russia it’s more convenient, you can choose a cheaper session. There is always one price - 15 — 17 dollars both on Monday and Saturday evening.

Sometimes I go to concerts: I went to Madonna, Lady Gaga, and we are going to Leningrad. There, of course, the entire emigrant public. As in Brooklyn, where you still often hear Russian speech on the streets, in buses, in restaurants. And they constantly perform there such artists, which have already been forgotten in 15 years ago in Russia. Popular in any 90's. In Russia, they are no longer remembered - and in Brooklyn they are still stars!

Brooklyn froze in that era, and Brighton Beach is like going to Russia or remembering trips to grandparents. People live there for 20 years and don't speak English at all. They do not need it. There, even Mexicans who work in vegetable shops speak Russian. Mostly retirees live there. Adapt to American life and speak English only teenagers. You can often see how older people turn to those who are younger in Russian, and those who respond to them in English. Children understand Russian, but do not want to speak, and adults understand English, but do not want to speak. So communicate.

I have no nostalgia, although I don’t even consider a foreign Russia. My parents live there, good friends. But I never miss Russia. If you need to choose where to go, I will rather go to another country.

Is that to go to my parents. But, although I don’t miss Russia, I feel fine there, there isn’t much discomfort, like, for example, someone says that, behold, I flew in, I could not get out for two days, in shock and all that. No, I calmly flew in, went out of the house, took a minibus, went - everything is fine.

I feel calm in Manhattan and in Krasnodar. Especially now, when in Krasnodar there is Uberthat costs a penny. Once I flew to Russia - I took a taxi from Manhattan to JFK airport, there was terrible traffic, I was stuck in a traffic jam for two hours, and the trip cost 170 dollars. And in Krasnodar from Yubileiny to the airport I drove for 300 rubles, that is, 5 dollars. So much for the price difference.

Read also on ForumDaily:

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What it's like to be Russian in America today

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